Nash ton cements Sussex control
Sussex 236 for 2 v Northamptonshire 125
Sussex put themselves in a great position to win promotion with a game to spare by dominating Northamptonshire on day one of their County Championship Division Two match at Hove. Needing eight points to secure an immediate return to Division One, they bowled out their visitors for 125 after winning the toss this morning.
Sussex openers Chris Nash and Michael Thornely had no such trouble with the pitch, however, as they launched the reply with a 228-run partnership in 44 overs. Thornely, dropped at second slip on 24, made the most of his reprieve to hit 11 fours and a six as he compiled a career-best 89 before he was bowled by Jack Brooks, who also picked up nightwatchman James Anyon just before stumps.
Nash was utterly dominant as he scored his third century in five games. He got to the milestone with his 12th boundary and at the same time established a new county record for the first wicket against Northamptonshire, beating the 193 by Ted Bowley and Maurice Tate at Hastings in 1985. Nash ended the day unbeaten on 122 with Sussex already 111 in front on 236 for 2.
The visitors had produced some pitiful batting earlier in the day with only wicketkeeper David Murphy, who top scored with 47, providing any real resistance as they were dismissed in 46 overs. Extras was the next highest score with 16.
There was some seam movement with the new ball which was expertly harnessed by Pakistan paceman Yasir Arafat, who bowled three of his four victims. But too many batsmen got out to loose shots and it took Murphy and David Lucas, who added 56 in 14 overs for the ninth wicket, to show what could be achieved with a modicum of application.
Arafat struck in successive overs after Corey Collymore had made the breakthrough when Mal Loye was caught low down by Andy Hodd - one of three wicketkeepers in the Sussex side - driving outside off stump.
Seam movement accounted for both Stephen Peters and Alex Wakeley and, although David Sales and Rob Newton effected a recovery of sorts by taking the score to 43 for 3, four more wickets fell in 12 overs before lunch.
Three of them were claimed by seamer Anyon, who extracted extra lift in a hostile eight-over spell down the slope. Newton gloved Anyon's first ball to Hodd and James Middlebrook fell in similar fashion after captain Andrew Hall had become Anyon's second victim courtesy of a fine slip catch by Ollie Rayner.
Monty Panesar got in on the act against his former county when he picked up Sales in his first over with an arm ball, but Murphy and Lucas made batting look a lot easier either side of lunch with Murphy pulling Collymore for six.
A 20-minute rain stoppage seemed to fire up Sussex again and they took the last three wickets in 23 balls as Arafat yorked Lucas and Brooks while Lee Daggett offered a simple bat-pad catch to give Panesar his second success.